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Why you should always wear a seat belt

By Ken Gibson on September 7, 2017

Approximately 90 percent of Americans are regularly wearing their seat belts when driving or riding in a vehicle. That’s a definite majority, but it still leaves 10 percent of the population at risk for serious injury or death if they’re in an accident.

If we could just convince those “non-wearers” to routinely buckle up, we could save more than 20,000 American lives each year, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.

How do seat belts make a difference in Virginia?

Unfortunately, Virginia is behind the nation in our rate of seat belt wearers. In Virginia, only an estimated 79 percent of residents were wearing seat belts in 2016. In fact, we’re on a downward trend in the Old Dominion: in 2009, more than 82 percent were buckling up.

Sadly, from 2003 to 2012 in Virginia, more than 6,700 people died in automobile accidents.

Consider this:

By wearing seat belts and properly buckling children into age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats, people can reduce their risk of serious injury and death in a crash by half. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

So you are twice as likely to survive a car accident if you are wearing a seat belt — your odds of surviving increase by 200 percent. Even though Virginia’s seat belt laws only require adults in the front seat to wear a seat belt, we and the Virginia DMV strongly advise you to wear yours even when riding in the back seat.

Virginia law does require that all children under 18 wear a seat belt whether they are in the front or back seat. And all children under 8 must ride in an age-appropriate child safety seat or booster.

Still need convincing?

Seat belts reduce your risk of death by 45 percent and your risk of serious injury by 50 percent, according to the CDC. Wearing a three-point seat belt in the center rear seat, your odds decrease by 58 percent!

Remember, you don’t have to be going far or fast to be injured or killed in a crash. Research shows that most fatal accidents occur within 25 miles of one’s home. Also, keep in mind that head injuries can occur even at slow speeds when you are not secured by a seat belt.

Despite the evidence supporting the effectiveness of seat belts in preventing injury and death, the laws requiring their use, and those annoying bells that ring in your car or truck until the belt is buckled, a few holdouts still refuse to strap themselves in.

Tragically, a 22-year-old Yorktown man was killed recently when he lost control of his car, struck a tree, and was thrown from the vehicle. A simple click could have saved his life.

We at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys care about the safety of our Virginia neighbors. We encourage everyone to always wear a seat belt and to make sure anyone riding in your car wears one too. And if you are ever injured in a car accident—seat belt or not—call us at (804) 413-6777 so that we can help you.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

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    John speaks at Gloucester’s Senior Safety Fair, reviewing key legal documents.
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